Two General Methods of Self-Realisation

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the seeker Bhrigu undertakes a course of sadhana to realize the Eternal. He is asked by his father to “Seek thou to know that from which these creatures are born, whereby being born thy live and to which they go hence and enter again; for that is the Eternal.” After deep reflection, Bhrigu determined that Matter (food) was the answer. Further concentration brought him to the realization that it was the Life-Force energy (Prana). The next step brought him to Mind as the source. Continuing on, he came to recognize the plane of consciousness called Knowledge. Finally he reached the realization that it was Bliss (Ananda) which is the Eternal. We see here a sequential evolution of consciousness from the planes of Matter-Life-Mind to the intermediate consciousness of the Supermind, to the eventual recognition of Sat-Chit-Ananda as the source and basis of existence. (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapters 1-6, pp. 275-278)

Sri Aurobindo observes that this is the basic method of evolution of the mental being seeking self-development: “He may evolve himself from plane to plane of his own being and embrace on each successively his oneness with the world and with Sachchidananda realised as the Purusha and Prakriti, Conscious-Soul and Nature-Soul of that plane, taking into himself the action of the lower grades of being as he ascends. He may, that is to say, work out by a sort of inclusive process of self-enlargement and transformation the evolution of the material into the divine or spiritual man. This seems to have been the method of the most ancient sages of which we get some glimpse in the Rig Veda and some of the Upanishads. (Notably, the Taittiriya Upanishad)”

“He may, on the other hand, aim straight at the realisation of pure self-existence on the highest plane of mental being and from that secure basis realise spiritually under the conditions of his mentality the process by which the self-existent becomes all existences, but without that descent into the self-divided egoistic consciousness which is a circumstance of evolution in the Ignorance. Thus identified with Sachchidananda in the universal self-existence as the spiritualised mental being, he may then ascend beyond to the supramental plane of the pure spiritual existence.”

“It is the latter method the stages of which we may now attempt to trace for the seeker by the path of knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 14, The Passive and the Active Brahman, pg. 384

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